By Kate Joseph
From the time David Fincher was announced to direct the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” fans of the 2012 novel were holding their breath. Fincher is known for taking a liberal creative license with his book-to-film adaptations (see “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), but his newest effort stays true to its critically acclaimed source material.
Though Fincher’s aesthetic dictates the perfectly-captured dark and thrilling tone, Flynn’s overtaking of screenplay writing duty keeps the film central to the book’s core style and overall feel.
“It boils down to the plot, which moves everything (and is very hard to disassemble too much) and making these characters believable,” said Flynn about adapting her novel for the screen. “I was a writer for 10 years for a weekly magazine [Entertainment Weekly], and had spent so much of my time having my 1,000-word piece suddenly be a 200-word box, and having to disassemble it and create it as a new thing. I think that helped me be pragmatic about it; I sort of had a ruthless, ‘I killed my darlings’ approach to it.”
The film focuses on the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) and the investigation that puts her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), as the main suspect.
Like the novel, the film also switches between the perspectives of Amy and Nick, which adds a surprisingly eerie layer to the story and allows the audience to see the characters detached from the dramatic and disturbing main plot.
Affleck, though a predictable choice for the charming but shortsighted Nick, wears the role like a glove, but it’s Pike who really shines. On-screen Amy is just as cunning as the amazing Amy who immobilizes readers of novel.
“You want to kind of moodscape in your head as much as you can,” said Pike. “The detail on the page takes you so far. And you’ve got to have gut instincts and you’ve got to be transported into some sound worlds. There’s not necessarily a direct link. It’s just a feeling. There’s a taste. There’s a flavor, a smell, whatever. And you take that.”
Other stand-out performances in the film include Neil Patrick Harris as Desi Collings, a past love interest of Amy’s, and Kim Dickens as Detective Rhonda Boney, the investigator who is working to find the evidence that will prove Nick guilty.
To go beyond the basic plot elements of either the novel or film would require a myriad of spoilers. The ability of the movie’s minute-and-a-half long trailer to express the film’s essence without delving into details is miraculous.
However, fans of the novel will be impressed. Not only does the novel translate well onto the big screen, aside from a bit of a rushed pace, but also the thrills, plot twists and brilliant dialogue will still electrify readers their second time around the story.
Whether or not you’ve read the book, “Gone Girl” is a must-see thriller that knows exactly what it is and how it will affect you.
“I like the idea that people who see ‘Gone Girl’ are possibly going to come out with incredibly different reactions to it – not just between men and women, but if you are in a good relationship or a bad relationship,” said Flynn. “Everyone is going to bring their own bundle of prejudices and viewpoints and experiences to it. I’m looking forward to that.”
“Gone Girl” is in theaters now.